Hip-Hop Mogul Russell Simmons To Join Oscar-Winner Jon Voight At First-Ever Limmud FSU West Coast Conference

Published January 19, 2016 | By Api Podder

PASADENA, Calif., Jan. 18 – Some 700 Russian-speaking Jews have sold out the first-ever Limmud FSU West Coast conference, which takes places this Jan. 29-31 at the Westin Hotel in Pasadena. A dynamic and pluralistic Jewish festival of learning, culture and creativity, Limmud FSU West Coast will feature an array of prominent speakers, including Oscar-winning actor Jon Voight and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons.

Simmons will speak about the Jewish response to Islamophobia, along with Jerusalem Post Editor Steve Lindeand Rabbi Marc Schneier, founder and president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. Simmons is chairman the N.Y.-based nonprofit that focuses on improving Muslim–Jewish and black-Jewish relations.

Other major participants will include Jewish Agency Chair and Soviet Jewry hero Natan Sharansky; Israeli film star Tamara Klingon; LA City Councilor Zev Yaraslovsky; Limmud FSU Chair Matthew Bronfman; Russian rock star Andrey Makarevich; Russian satirist and author Victor Shenderovich; Russian-Israeli singer Irene Talia Rosenfeld; jazz musician Leonid Ptashka; Jewish Women’s Renaissance Founder Lori Palatnik; former Israel Defense Forces Maj. Gen. Uzi Dayan; Reut Institute President Gidi Grinstein; Rabbi David Wolpe; Hillel International President and CEO Eric Fingerhut; and LA Jewish Journal/TRIBE Media President David Suissa.

Co-chairing Limmud FSU West Coast are Sasha Shteyn of LA and Leo Hmelnitsky of San Francisco. Honorary chairs include Limmud FSU Board members and philanthropists Michal Grayevsky and Diane Wohl and philanthropist Ada Horwich.

“Limmud FSU has revolutionized how we strengthen the Russian-speaking Jewish community worldwide, and Limmud FSU West Coast offers a historic opportunity to engage and inspire this emerging community for generations to come,” said Limmud FSU Founder Chaim Chesler.

“We are thrilled to be bringing the premier Limmud FSU experience to the West Coast, with its fascinating Jewish history and growing Russian-speaking population,” said Limmud FSU Co-Founder Sandra Cahn.

Limmud FSU West Coast will feature an eclectic lineup, from a concert by Makarevich to spiritually stirring Shabbat and Havdalah (end of Shabbat) ceremonies, to interactive improv, and film screenings. The conference will also offer over 60 fascinating sessions on such issues as Russian-Jewish identity, the Russian-Jewish community in LA and Jewish perspectives on relationships. There are an estimated 80,000 Russian-speaking Jews in the greater LA area, with other large Russian-speaking Jewish communities in the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere in California. There are some 700,000 Russian-speaking Jews in the U.S. altogether.

To learn more about the conference and see the full program, please visit: http://westcoast.limmudfsuus.org.

About Limmud FSU:

Limmud FSU is a nonprofit founded 10 years ago by Chaim Chesler, former treasurer of the Jewish Agency, and Sandra Cahn, a philanthropist from New York, to serve young Russian-speaking Jews around the world. Limmud FSU brings together and empowers young Jewish adults who are revitalizing Jewish communities and culture in the countries of the former Soviet Union, as well as in countries with Russian speakers around the world. The organization operates in Belarus, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, the U.S., Canada, Australia and Israel. Some 35,000 participants have taken part in its conferences, projects and festivals. Key partners include the Claims Conference, JDC, philanthropist Matthew Bronfman, Aaron Frankel, Diane Wohl, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, the Jewish National Fund (KKL), the Jewish Agency and others. For additional details: www.limmudfsu.org.